United Kingdom

‘Super-gran’ Margaret Keenan’s coronavirus jab sets UK on road to normality

Covid-19 vaccine hero Margaret Keenan was described as a “super-gran” by her proud family.

Grandson Conor Maton said the Strictly Come Dancing fan “jumped at the chance” to be the first person in the world to get the lifesaving jab.

The 29-year-old said his whisky-loving gran is a “larger than life” character who wanted to help get the country back on track.

He told the Mirror: “It’s a massive deal for the country and we’re so proud of her for being the first person to get the vaccine.

“The fact that she’s 90 years old – 91 next week – will hopefully give other people confidence to have the jab.

“Gran decided to do this herself. She wanted to do it, there was no pressure. She wanted to do something good.

“It sums her up because she’s a wonderful woman. We only found out a couple of days ago that she was going to be first.

“This is big news for the country and the whole world. It’s really exciting. We’re really proud of her.”

Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward

Coventry City fan Margaret had spent the two coronavirus lockdowns being cared for by her family.

She was admitted to hospital several days ago after suffering breathing difficulties – but tested negative for Covid.

As she made quick recovery, medics offered her the chance to have the jab –
and she jumped at the chance.

“We’re quite a private family so it’s been a bit of a shock to suddenly be thrust into the limelight,” said Conor.

“But it won’t bother gran. Like I said she’s larger than life, so nothing will faze her.

“She’s 91 next week so we’ll definitely be celebrating with a party. It will be pretty low-key though.

“We’re all in a bubble so we’ll spend Christmas as a family. It will be extra special this year that’s for sure.”

'Super-gran' Margaret Keenan's coronavirus jab sets UK on road to normality
The watershed moment as Margaret Keenan gets the jab

Margaret, originally from Enniskillen, has two children – daughter Susan Caton, 57, and son Philip Keenan, 61.

She also has four grandchildren – Conor, his brother Liam, 25, and their cousins Tom Keenan, 19, and Kevin Keenan, 16.

The pensioner moved from Northern Ireland to Coventry with her husband Philip in the 1950s.

She worked as a waitress in a pub before landing a job at Whetstone Jewellers, where she worked until she was 86.

Philip died in 2007, and Margaret has lived alone in her semi-detached home in the Ball Hill area of the city ever since.

Her daughter lives five minutes away, while her son moved to Baldock, Herts, several years ago.

'Super-gran' Margaret Keenan's coronavirus jab sets UK on road to normality
Margaret Keenan, 90, was the first to receive the jab in the UK

Conor said his gran is a huge Strictly Comes Dancing fan and a keen follower of the Sky Blues.

“Gran loves watching Strictly,” he said. “She’s missed a week so she’s got a bit to catch up on.

“She always keeps an eye on the Coventry scores. We’ve got Luton tonight and she’ll be interested to see how that goes.

“She lives by herself and still goes to the shops and does odd jobs around the house. She’s very independent.

“She’s definitely a super gran – she’s always been a super-gran in our eyes.”

Margaret’s son Philip, a Cambridge University worker, described her as a “little person with a heart of gold”.

He only learned his mother had made history when she called him this morning after having the jab.

“Mum called and said she was on the television. I asked her when and she replied: ‘Now!’ I was just totally shocked,” he said.

'Super-gran' Margaret Keenan's coronavirus jab sets UK on road to normality
Margaret Keenan, 90, returns to her ward after making history

He added: “Up until five or six days ago she was seriously ill – she spent two days in the intensive care unit.

“She had been short of breath for several weeks but got worse and worse,
although it wasn’t coronavirus.

“She still has high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate and both will need monitoring now, but she is doing well.

“She’s sprightly. Last year she was up a ladder painting and decorating in my home.

“When she comes to visit she goes out and about by herself – everybody knows her in the local cafes around here.

“She is determined to live beyond 100 and has done everything possible to protect herself.

“She’s a very sociable person and it has been hard for her to lose that contact with people during the pandemic.

“She has bubbled with my sister and her family in Coventry, but otherwise mum has not left her house since March.”

'Super-gran' Margaret Keenan's coronavirus jab sets UK on road to normality
The second person to have the injection was 81-year-old William “Bill” Shakespeare

Margaret’s neighbour Heather Connolly joked the pensioner would be “annoyed” that everyone knows her age.

“You would never guess she was 91. She doesn’t look anything like her age and is so active and very independent,” she said.

“You’ll see her outside keeping the Grove tidy, sweeping up leaves. She is just a real lady and everyone in the community loves her.

Dilys Webb, 62, added: “Maggie likes to socialise and is very independent. She goes out every single day.

“It’s very unusual for her to be in hospital and I’ve no doubt she’ll be back dragging her dustbin across the road for the bin men.

“She really is an inspiration and the perfect person to be the first to have the vaccine.”

'Super-gran' Margaret Keenan's coronavirus jab sets UK on road to normality
Matt Hancock appeared to well up today

A patient named William Shakespeare became the first man in the world to get the Pfizer vaccine at Coventry’s University Hospital.

Bill Shakespeare, 81, from the city, is named after the famous playwright who was born nearby in Stratford-upon-Avon.

“It’s ground-breaking I think,” he said.

“It could make a difference to our lives from now on, couldn’t it. It will be a precaution.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared to break down in tears as he was shown footage of Bill’s comments on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

He said: “Well you know, it’s been such a tough year for so many people. There’s William Shakespeare putting it so simply for everyone you know, we can get on with our lives.

“There’s still a few months to go, I’ve still got this worry you know. We can’t blow it now.”

The Pfizer jab has already been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the 54 million of the UK population aged 16 and over.

 The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will then decide which age groups to offer it to as more trial data emerges.

Doses are tomorrow being administered at 70 hospital hubs around the UK before being rolled out at GP-led clinics from next week.

'Super-gran' Margaret Keenan's coronavirus jab sets UK on road to normality
Michael Tibbs, 99 is prior to Michael receiving the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine

A 99-year-old man received a warm round of applause as he received the first Coronavirus vaccine deployed at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth this morning.

Michael Tibbs said “It’s absolutely wonderful, I’m very lucky really. I hope everyone else is able to have it as it’s really no problem at all”.

After spending the majority of the pandemic confined to his garden, Mr Tibbs continued to express his gratitude for still being here and that he’s “Looking forward to spending time with his grandchildren and his great grandchildren”.

Michael Tibbs’ own son, who’s a GP, will also be getting involved in the distribution of the Coronavirus vaccine – “He’s a GP, why not use him?” he said.

When asked what he thought of the vaccination and others of a similar age getting it he said: “We are so fortunate to be in this country with its National Health Service. It really is excellent”.

Anthony Moore, 82, from Sheffield said he was delighted to get the jab saying: “We haven’t been out of the house all year. It’s like winning the pools”.

Boris Johnson vowed Britain “will beat this together” as the first coronavirus vaccines were pumped into arms.

The Prime Minister, who visited Guy’s Hospital in central London to meet some of the first patients inoculated, said the jabs would eventually make a “huge difference”.

The PM urged people not to be afraid of getting inoculated.

“To all those who are scared – don’t be,” he said.

“You have seen people take the vaccine this morning in large numbers. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

The Office for National Statistics found deaths attributed to Covid-19 continue to rise with over 3,000 deaths registered in the week up to 27 November.

It was the twelfth week in a row the number of people dying with the virus listed on their death certificate has continued to grow.

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “Today is a watershed moment in the fight against Covid-19 as the first vaccinations are administered.

“Whilst we start the first steps on the path to getting back to normality in due course, we need to remain vigilant not let our guard down as the vaccine is rolled out, but this is still a tremendous day of celebration.”


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